Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Grand Stair

The Grand Stair is an enormous stone staircase that begins at Copper Gate and runs for thousands of steps up the pillar Dastos in a loose spiral, passing through the gates of Staircase Keep to end at the courtyard nicknamed Flotsam Harbour. The Grand Stair is the only means of pedestrian access between Upside and the Driftdowns. For most of its length, the Stair is 10 feet wide, its steps an uncannily regular 1 foot high and deep. As the Grand Stair tops Dastos, however, it flares out to 50 feet in width, maintaining that size until it passes through First Gate and is split into two sets of steps, each 25 feet wide, that run between the inner keep and its two towers. The Grand Stair is open to all from sunrise to sunset and during that time it bustles with guildsmen, porters, messengers, and merchants. At sunset, the Copper Gate and Staircase Keep are sealed and only those bearing watermarks are allowed to pass. Those without are trapped on the Stair until morning.

A trip up the immense Grand Stair should, by all rights, be a grueling physical effort taking hours to accomplish, but a subtle dimensional enchantment laid down by the city’s enigmatic architects makes the journey simpler. Travelers walking up the stair at a normal, unhurried pace cover distance as if moving at a hustle (X2 move), and if they do increase their speed to a hustle, they travel as if they were running (x4move, but this effect is imperceptible to the traveler. People attempting to run up the stair or using boots of striding and springing or similar magic do not benefit from the stair’s magic.

Despite the presence of helpful magic, many find a trip up the Grand Stair a daunting prospect, among them the elderly, the diabled and heavily laden food cart merchants bound for the Rat’s Nest and Government District. Several unique entrepreneurs have profited immensely by serving their needs, among them:

Hogar Spittleback, an orc who for 1 gold piece per trip, ferries travelers up the Stair on a rickety sedan chair converted into a backpack.

Xerxes, a gnome, whose permanently enlraged giant lizard pads up and down the steps carrying barrels and boxes on his back

Liesle a human female, who is said to work for the Sevens smuggling cargo and even people into Upside. She is said to work for the half elven woman Lyri Farsil.

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